Feds Hit Alleged Spammers in Sting

  |  August 25, 2004   |  Comments

The DOJ is set to announce several arrests and indictments againstalleged spammers.

Officials at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) confirmed Wednesday the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will announce arrests and indictments of several alleged American spammers at a press conference Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The DMA said some of those arrests were the result of Operation Slam Spam, a partnership between the DMA and the FBI, which launched in August 2003. The New York-based industry organization provides funding, training for law enforcement officials and a database full of known spammers.

"It's about time, because the majority of spam that we get is just egregiously illegal," said John Levine, chairman of the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG). "I'm glad to see they finally collected enough stuff that they're ready to move ahead and put these guys in jail where they belong."

The DMA for years has been working on ways to separate its organization, which promotes the legal dissemination of commercial emails, from a spam community, which blasts out millions of illegal unsolicited commercial emails (UCE) monthly. Many of those use spoofed return email addresses, and they're often delivered through zombied computers to allow spammers to avoid paying for bandwidth fees.

In its statement, the DMA said its work with the FBI "helps engender greater trust and comfort in legitimate commercial email communications."

It is likely the spammers will be charged with violating provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, legislation enacted in January to respond to the growing threat of spam, which is perpetuated many times by people located in the United States who host their operations overseas where anti-spam laws aren't as strictly enforced.

The CAN-SPAM Act says people and businesses can send emails, as long as they abide by the constraints: They must include a valid IP address; contain an electronics-based opt-out mechanism; indicate in the subject line that it is an advertisement; and include a legitimate physical mailing address.

It's likely the alleged perpetrators will also be charged under anti-fraud laws that pre-dated CAN-SPAM. Before the legislation passed, the DMA had long maintained that much spam was already illegal under existing federal statutes.

In the past eight months, the new law has had little effect on spamming activity. A recent report by security firm CipherTrust illustrates that 86 percent of the spam sent between May and July originated in the United States. A Senate Commerce Committee hearing in May found wildly different opinions on the effectiveness of the legislation, while only a few arrests have actually been made since the bill's passage. The first CAN-SPAM cases didn't occur until March and April.

It might be a little early to worry about the effectiveness of the fledgling bill, however. Levine said that although it's easy enough to see the numbers of fraudulent spam, getting the FBI or DOJ to provide evidence of guilt on a particular person or business is another thing entirely.

"It's a very new part of law enforcement, and, as a result, building a case is going to be difficult," he said. "They're going to have complicated, technical evidence, and they're going to have to educate the judges as to why this evidence actually support the case and these guys are violating this new law."

A spokesman for the DOJ declined to comment. A spokesman at the FBI's cybercrime division was not immediately available for comment.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Sept 5 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales
      Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales (Expedia, Inc.) - ChicagoJob Title:  Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales   Position Overview: The Senior...
    • Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales
      Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales (Expedia, Inc.) - New YorkPosition Overview: The Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales is responsible for managing...
    • Digital Marketing Analyst
      Digital Marketing Analyst (GovLoop) - Washington D.C.Are you passionate about audience acquisition? Love effective copy and amazingly effective...